Pretty amazing. Having come fourth with 11% in 2010, the SNP are now favourites to win the East Dunbartonshire seat next May and unseat the Lib Dem incumbent, Jo Swinson.

This could be one of the most interesting three way marginals in the whole of the UK, and we’ve seen support for all three main contenders. The shrewdies who took 50/1 about the SNP in the days before the referendum can be quite pleased with their position now.

Perhaps the SNP should be even shorter. If you take a look at electionforecast.co.uk their probabilities would produce odds of:

  • 4/9 SNP
  • 4/1 Labour
  • 10/1 Lib Dems

I would advise anyone to have a good look at the FAQs on their site before committing too much money on the basis of their forecasts. Predicting Scottish seats is incredibly tricky at the moment. The basic problem is how much can you anchor forecasts to the 2010 results, or do we just accept that the world of Scottish politics has totally changed and start from scratch? We’ll have a better idea once we get some constituency level polling in the New Year.

 

Channel 4 are planning a “mockumentary” based on the early days of a UKIP government. So, naturally, we’ve knocked up some odds on who will play Farage. I don’t really have much more to say, but if anyone has any good suggestions for other possibles, post them here and we’ll add the best ones to our betting.

 

We’ve cut the odds on the Greens out-polling the Lib Dems in 2015 from 5/1 to 4/1 today. That follows last night YouGov poll which put the Greens ahead.

Pretty staggering considering that at the last general election the Liberal Democrats got twenty five times as many votes as the Greens. There’s a good Telegraph article here which highlights some of the main issues behind the Green rise in the polls.

I think there are a couple of factors which would make me slightly wary about taking the 4/1 though.

1. How many candidates will they stand? In 2010, the Greens stood in just 310 UK constituencies i.e. under half. This time they are reported to be aiming for three quarters, which would be something around 490. No matter how bad things get for the Lib Dems, I’m sure they will still be on the ballot in the 631 seats outside of Northern Ireland (and the Speaker’s seat).So the Greens would have to get 28% more votes per seat contested than the Lib Dems to outscore them nationwide. That might not be as difficult as it sounds; presumably the seats they won’t contest will be the less favourable ones for them anyway.

2. Will they fade away in the campaign? If the current TV debate proposals go ahead, then Nick Clegg will be in two of the three debates. The Greens won’t feature in any. The Green’s most skilled media performer, Caroline Lucas, will be busy trying to hang on to their one seat in Brighton Pavilion (she’s currently a marginal favourite), so the face of their campaign will be leader Natalie Bennett, who hasn’t convinced everybody yet.

Newsnight ran a good piece yesterday explaining some of the problems with forecasting the next general election, including a very interesting contribution from Chris Hanretty from the UEA.

One of the best features of Chris’s model is that it produces precise probabilities for each party to win each seat, which we can compare to Ladbrokes’ constituency odds. I haven’t been through every seat, although I have had a good look at the Scottish ones already, because his forecasts produce some startling results there. If you like his approach, then there are some fantastic bets to be had, all on the SNP. Here are just a few seats I picked out with the Ladbrokes’ SNP odds and those suggested by the model.

ConstituencyLadbrokesHanretty
Gordon4/71/100
Falkirk5/61/50
Argyll and ButeEvens1/10
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross2/11/16
Fife North East9/42/5
Glasgow East5/24/11
Ross, Skye and Lochaber3/11/4
Glasgow Central4/18/13
Paisley and Renfrewshire South5/12/1
Orkney and Shetland10/111/8

Before piling in to the prices, it’s worth having a good look at the FAQs on Chris’s site. They are completely open that the local performance of the Liberal Democrats is a major source of uncertainty, and I think that has caused a lot of the differences above. For example, in 2010 the SNP finished 51% behind the Lib Dems in Orkney & Shetland. I don’t think many people would be in a hurry to take 11/8 about them turning that around. As they point out on the site: “We are not gambling on the basis of these predictions”.

Tomorrow night we’ll find out the winner of the 2014 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for album of the year. As the betting suggests, it’s wide open and I could even give the 33/1 outsiders GoGo Penguin a chance.

There are a few punters with some very nice bets running. FKA Twigs were backed in from 33/1 and Kate Tempest was available at 50/1, so Ladbrokes will be hoping neither of those win. In terms of numbers of bets taken, Royal Blood have just about topped the list so far, closely followed by FKA Twigs and Kate Tempest. Anna Calvi has been the least popular choice of punters.

Having listened to most of these, there are four albums that I’m going to predict won’t win. The judges usually try to pick something that moves music forward and that is in some way musically representative of the year in which it was released. On that basis, I don’t fancy Jungle, Nick Mulvey or Royal Blood very much, which isn’t to say they aren’t good albums; I just don’t think they fit the bill. I would also be reasonably surprised if Damon Albarn won, as I think it would be a bit odd to give the kudos (and a £20k cheque) to somebody who doesn’t need it.

Looking back at the betting over the last ten years, four of the winners were either favourites or joint favourites with Ladbrokes on the day. The only huge surprise was actually last year, when the last price we had on James Blake was 33/1.

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